Saturday, May 11, 2013

A PERSONAL NOTE - TWENTY ONE TO-DAY - BUT NOT WHAT YOU MIGHT EXPECT


JOHN JOSEPH DIXON (L of Photo) around 1911
WITH HIS MOTHER, ALBERT (R)
AND BABY BROTHER BILL WHOM DAD GREATLY ADMIRED

To-day ,Saturday 11th May, 2013 is the Twenty First Anniversary of my Father's death just three weeks short of his 85th Birthday. He survived the death of my Mother by almost 21 years .

Sent to work at age 11 years in a metal foundry, he had a pretty tough life.


HERE, IN 1927 DAD LOOKS LIKE THE TYPICAL YOUNG BANKER OR CIVIL SERVANT
WHICH HE WAS NOT, HE ALWAYS WORKED IN BLUE COLLAR OCCUPATIONS

His life experience together with his local social network, made him a lifelong Labor Party voter. He persevered in this even after he said he was convinced that the Labor Party was riddled with Communists whom he despised - he just could not bring himself to desert the "working class party". And in fact he did see the world and the nation in those Victorian era Class terms.

My Dad was born a Catholic and educated in a Convent School, but for long periods did not practise his religion. Yet when his "kind eyes"won the heart of Miss Elsie Georgina Beckmann a petite and beautiful,modest girl from a devout Evangelical Protestant family , he required that they be properly married in the Catholic Church. Miss Beckmann was instructed in the Faith and duly became a Catholic, and they were married in 1927.

To-day's cynicism might suggest that he was being hypocritical. But in those days people were honest about doing wrong  - he knew it was wrong not to practise his religion, but he also knew that there are absolutes of such importance that you don't abuse them : he would not betray his Religion, even if he did not practise it - that Truth was bound to him for life.

When I was born, Dad was 32 years old ,he was never unkind to me, but not outgoing or physically demonstrative of his love. ( The Poet James Macauley writes powerfully of his own Father's inability to physically express any affection.) He worked on the construction of the great Garden Island Graving Dock, for the Navy. This was a protected employment category, which stopped him being sent on labour battalions to Darwin when he received the call-up. He could not be in the regular forces because of faulty eyesight resulting from an accident at the Foundry when he was about 13 yrs old.

As I grew up, all my interests were largely alien to my Dad except Politics, and even then we were on opposite sides of the fence!Only after many years did  I hear that Dad was very proud of my progress in Banking  and in other areas and used to regale his regular drinking mates at the hotel in Lidcombe with my latest efforts. We almost never got to talk at any length on  any subject , conversation being limited to brief exchanges of statements never pressed too far lest the heavy crunch of disagreement should wreck things.

Dad worked hard all through his life, and for most of my life after the War, he worked in the hot dirty atmosphere of Potts Hill Water Pumping Station , which he rode to and from on a bicycle in light and dark ( for he was a shift worker) and in summer heat and driving rain.It was about a twenty minutes bike ride each way.

In my twenties and thirties , I could of course, perceive all my Father's faults with clinical efficiency, whilst making every allowance for any tendency  to deficiency on my part. As the years went by my Dad evolved, particularly after he came to see the devastating effect on my Mum's fragile mental health following a Hysterectomy. He came to see in time how cruel was the effect of stubborn,sullen silences - sometimes lasting 3 days - over some exaggerated "offence"on someone so vulnerable. He was transformed.

He also returned to the practise of the Faith which was very pleasing to see and took great delight in his three grandchildren, Marianne, Justine and Matthew and never ceased urging me to look after my wife!

But still he could not freely and easily communicate either emotions or ideas.Whether or not this disability stemmed from the treatment he received from his brutish and drunkard Father, I cannot say for sure, but if I were a betting man......

Dad's later years were plagued by troubles with his heart - suffering from an "enlarged heart"which caused recurring build-ups of fluid around the heart, these required repeated hospitalisation to relieve them but there could be no cure.

In fact he had just successfully completed one such routine and was about to be released when he suffered a heart attack and died. The Catholic Chaplain to the Auburn Hospital where Dad died was quickly on the spot to minister to  his poor body and pray for his soul. His name was Father Stephen Swift and I was most impressed by the card he left endorsed with all that needed to be done to ensure a proper Catholic burial - for he knew nothing of the family.

We were living in Brisbane at the time and I received a call from my Brother Pat telling me of Dad's death and saying that the Hospital  wanted to perform an autopsy. I was on the first plane down next morning and went straight to see the Doctor in Charge -  a young Asian gent. He was prompt to offer condolences and almost as prompt to proffer a form authorising an autopsy for signature. When I objected that they clearly knew the cause of death, and that  this was unnecessary, the form quickly disappeared into the pocket of his white coat. I informed him that after the long periods of my Dad's health problems, I did not want his body used for training purposes. This is a matter which I believe the Hospital handled very badly to say the least.

1947 WITH MY DAD IN PITT STREET SYDNEY


So John Joseph "Jack"Dixon I love you dearly and hope we have the opportunity to understand each other far better in Paradise.My prayers for the repose of your soul and of Mum's are daily made, because time is irrelevant in eternity.

TONY DIXON

2 comments:

J said...

Your post moved me to tears. I have said a prayer for both your mother and father.

Catherine
(a reader from Brisbane)

vexilla regis said...

Catherine ,Thank you very much for your comment and for your prayers for Mum and Dad. The passage of the years means nothing for they are in Eternity. God Bless you for your kindness.
Tony